Thursday, March 17, 2011

But first it was a BOOK: Books gone Hollywood

There are some titles that everyone knows went from book to movie-- the Harry Potter series, Lord of the Rings, etc. But there are so many movies out there that we've overlooked. We know them best as movies or shows, but a lot of them actually come from books-- I've listed a few here. It seems like every day I find another one, so don't be surprised if another list like this shows up on my blog at a later point in time. 

If you can think of more, please leave a comment and let me know, I'd love to hear it.


Forrest Gump- Say what? This iconic movie seems like it stands completely on its own, and rightly so-- it's pretty amazing. But first, it was a book-- called Forrest Gump also, by Winston Groom. It had a sequel called Gump & Co. I also like the fact that there is a Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. Cookbook at our library that tells you all the ways you can eat shrimp... boiled shrimp. Broiled shrimp. Fried shrimp. Shrimp gumbo... 

What's Eating Gilbert Grape- The movie stars Johnny Depp, Juliette Lewis, and a young Leonardo DiCaprio as Johnny Depp's mentally retarded younger brother. The movie's pretty awesome, but I was really surprised to find it sitting in the stacks. First it was a book! Check it out -- same title, by Peter Hedges. 

High Fidelity- Film starring the ever-adorable John Cusack and comedian sweetheart Jack Black. Originally, a novel written by Nick Hornby, who also wrote About a Boy (later ALSO a movie with Hugh Grant), and a book called Bong Water. I just included that last one because it's an attention grabber, and for the record, whenever I put it out on display, it goes rather quickly. 

Jaws- The movie is iconic-- the music (who knew that two simple notes could strike terror into the hearts of swimmers everywhere), the tagline ("Don't go in the water"-- and Jaws 2 "Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water,") but what about the book? Peter Benchley wrote Jaws in 1974- the movie came out in 1975. After all that time, younger generations have forgotten, but it's still there, lurking on the shelves.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - Before the love story acted out by Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett on the big screen, F. Scott Fitzgerald had written this average little short story based off of a quote by Mark Twain. It's not the love story from the big screen though, it's actually a little sad and depressing. But if you want to read it, it's in the public domain now, and you can read it here for free :

The Green Mile- Stephen King. This man is a genius, and has had only about a bajillion of his books made into movies. This one isn't quite as creepy as a lot of his other novels, though, which is why it sometimes flies under the radar as a movie turned book. The movie is incredible-- with big shots like Tom Hanks, and the star of the show, Michael Clarke Duncan as John Coffey. He's absolutely fantastic. 

The Shawshank Redemption- Following up on that, let's mention that Mr. Stephen Awesome King also wrote the novella "Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption", in a collection called Different Seasons, published in 1982. This became the movie we all know and love in 1994, and is by far the best prison movie ever made.  (Side note- other movies from Stephen King books are Carrie, Hearts in Atlantis, Stand By Me, Secret Window, Pet Sematary, The Shining, 1408, Children of the Corn, and even the TV show, The Dead Zone -- these are just a few of the more impressive ones, but a full list can be found on his website at ).

The Prestige- I have to admit, the movie wasn't greatly known. It came out around the same time as another magician movie, The Illusionist (with Edward Norton). This movie stars Hugh Jackson (yum!) and Christian Bale, as two competing magicians. But I loved it, and that's why I thought it was useful to mention that it too was a book by the same name, written by Christopher Priest.

I Am Legend - This movie was first a book written by Richard Matheson in 1954. It was popular enough to be made into movie form multiple times: The Last Man on Earth (1964), The Omega Man (1971), and I Am Legend (2007), and I Am Omega (2007). Wikipedia says that it inspired 1968's Night of the Living Dead as well. But then, it's Wikipedia, so who knows how accurate that is.
The American- The 2010 movie starring George Clooney was actually a book by Martin Booth first published under the title A Very Private Gentleman, but the book we own at the library was redubbed The American. I'm guessing this is probably because otherwise I wouldn't have picked it up, wondered about it, been surprised, and then posted this on my blog otherwise.

Sex and the City- Alright, if you're giving me a look as to "why is that on the list?" then just stop. I know, some of you know it, that Sex and the City was a book first. But not everyone does, so just chill. But although a lot of the characters appear, they aren't really the same as the TV versions, so it's a mistake to think they are. Just read the Amazon reviews, and they'll tell you. Bushnell has recently gotten further mileage out of Carrie Bradshaw with her newest book, The Carrie Diaries, the life of Carrie Bradshaw when she's first moved to the Big Apple.

True Blood- Stephanie Meyer is a hack compared with the intricacies of True Blood, and by that, I mean, the intricacies that Charlaine Harris created with her series, The Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vampire series.  They are pure genius! It's a crime that Stephanie Meyer is so renowned as an author for creating her series, when Charlaine Harris is relatively unknown, yet she has so much fame for inspiring the HBO series, True Blood. I just recently got hooked, and it's my little guilty pleasure.



  1. Who's more awesome? Stephen King or Stephen Hawking? Check out your section about Shawshank.

    The only book of these that I've read is High Fidelity, and I love both book and movie.

  2. My husband loves "Forrest Gump" -- I think I see a Bubba Gump cookbook in his future...thanks for the tip!

  3. You can add Fever Pitch to the list, although the movie featured Drew Barrymore (strike one), Jimmy Fallon (strike two), and the movie is nothing like the book. It's not even about the same sport (strike three).

    Good book though. If you like English football. Which I do.

  4. I had no idea Forrest Gump was a book first. I'm planning an exhibit at my job about films that were originally graphic novels. Two that surprise people are The Road to Perdition and the more recent Tamara Drewe.

    Under Shawshank, you put that it was written by Mr. Stephen Awesome Hawking... Stephen Hawking is great, but I think you meant the Mr. Stephen Awesome King.

    @Travis - The Americanized Fever Pitch was horrid, but perhaps the original British film adaptation which came out in 1997 is better?

  5. Ewww... terrible oversight on the Stephen Hawking. How those extra three letters jumped onto his name, I'm not sure. Thanks!